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Explosion Rocks Center of Pristina

August 18, 2000

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ An explosion rocked the center of Pristina on Friday, damaging the offices of Serb, ethnic Albanian and other political parties all housed in one building.

One person suffered cuts and bruises and several others were in shock, said Flight Lt. Tim Serrell-Cooke, speaking for NATO peacekeepers.

NATO officials said the blast appeared to have been caused by a bomb.

``It just exploded from the middle of nowhere, and we didn’t know what hit us,″ said Linda Spahiu, who worked for the party representing Kosovo’s Turkish minority. Her face was cut from the blast.

The Yugoslavs claimed the blast was an attack on their liaison office housed in the same building.

The head of Yugoslavia’s liaison office in Pristina, Stanimir Vukicevic, accused the U.N. Mission in Kosovo and the international peacekeeping force of condoning the attack, the Tanjug news agency said.

Vukicevic said the attack was aimed at ``ethnically cleansing and eradicating the presence of Yugoslavia from Kosovo.″ Kosovo, a southern Yugoslav province, has been run by the United Nations since the end of a 78-day NATO bombing campaign last year.

The explosion shattered window panes in the area. U.N. police and NATO peacekeepers cordoned off the area.

The building is run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE is in charge of democracy building in the province, still wracked by ethnic hatreds and lawlessness more than a year after the NATO bombing forced an end to the Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians.

Bernard Kouchner, Kosovo’s chief U.N. administrator, said the bomb was planted by ``enemies of democracy.″

``A bomb is a very undemocratic means″ of expressing an opinion, he told reporters.

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